Monday, May 29, 2017

Bring home advantage back for the Pro12 final

by Ciarán Duffy

For the last three seasons the Pro12 final has been played at a predetermined venue.  Glasgow won at the Kingspan, Connacht won at Murrayfield, and most recently Scarlets won at the Aviva.  Based on Saturdays performance Scarlets would have beaten any team in the league at any venue (yes even in space or a volcano), they are deserved champions.  As it happens, the last three finals have been one-sided affairs.  But watching the match, I couldn’t help but think the game should have been at Thomond Park.  Munster finished top after playing each side twice, it seems fair that they would have home advantage for the decider.

The Pro12 is not like the Top14 or the Aviva Premiership.  There is more than one nation being represented, and so there is no national stadium of the league.  It makes sense that the Champions of England would be crowned at Twickenham.  That’s not the case with the Pro12, there is no stadium that acts as the league's home.  

Destination finals do not guarantee a neutral venue.  In fact, at some stage, home advantage may well go to the wrong team.  Had Leinster progressed to the final they would have had home advantage over Munster despite finishing below them in the league, which would have been unfair.  

The finals have gone Ireland, Scotland, Ireland.  Not exactly spreading it out, but Cardiff is hosting the Champions League final this year, so perhaps the plan is to wait and give Wales the final next year.  Also missing from the list above, Italy.  At some stage if the final is being rotated between each nation, the final will have to be held in Italy, despite the fact that no Italian team has ever finished in or near the top 4.  If said final is being competed by Welsh, Irish or Scottish teams, it would be far from ideal for the travelling fans.  The best placed finalists should be able to pick the venue.  It would make the final a better representation of the season as a whole, the team that finishes first has earned it.  

Destination finals, yes or no? Sound off below (be civil)

Ciarán Duffy (@TheVoiceDepth) is a Leinster supporter and self-proclaimed ‘big cheese’ of Post To Post (@PostToPostSport).   He’ll write about anything rugby under the condition he gets to take it too seriously.


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Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019